Written evidence submitted by Cornwall Council, Council for the Isles of Scilly and The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LRS0003)

 

Introduction

Cornwall Council is a unitary authority with a resident population of 569,578 [Mid-Year Population Estimates, 2020] and an enterprise business count of 24,450 [UK Business Counts, 2019]. Cornwall is primarily a microbusiness economy with eighty eight percent of enterprises employing 0-9 employees. Cornwall only has 70 large employers with over 250 employees [UK Business Counts, 2019].

We are the largest rural Unitary Authority in England and are also the first rural authority to receive a devolution deal in 2015 on which Cornwall has been delivering a strong track record – independently verified by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, as well as in the Warwick Economics evaluation for BEIS, due to come out this spring/summer. The Cornwall Deal has been a first step towards ‘closing the gap’ that characterises Cornwall’s position vis-à-vis national averages. By securing freedoms to design local policy solutions to the place-specific challenges of their rural and peripheral communities, Cornwall Council has delivered significant achievements, including crucial improvements to their transport infrastructure to better serve local need, the launch of a Growth & Skills Hub, and tackling the higher than average fuel poverty rate.

There are 2,260 people living in the Isles of Scilly, with the lowest population density at 137 per km2. The islands have seen a population decline of 0.9% from 2012 to 2017. 25% of the population are 65+ and only 16.6% are between 20 and 34 years old.  Most of the workforce both live and work on the islands, but it is difficult to attract younger families; there is a shortage of available housing, house prices are 15 times that of annual household income and 26% lack central heating. 

Tourism is the biggest sector making the islands very vulnerable to changes in visitor trends/demographics. The islands are also vulnerable in respect of transport; there is a single sea transport provider, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company, and bad weather effects sea travel with a reduced service in the Winter months.  For air links there are two providers, the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company provide a fixed wing service and Penzance Helicopters are aiming to provide a rotary wing option from the summer of 2020.  They are also vulnerable in respect of a secure and constant supply of electricity from the grid, which is provided via a single connecting cable.

 

 

The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) was launched in May 2011. Private sector-led, it is a partnership between the private and public sectors and is driving the economic strategy for the area, determining local priorities and undertaking activities to drive growth and the creation of local jobs.  The LEP is business-driven and our board includes 15 appointed representatives of the private sector, 3 nominated Cornwall Council representatives and 1 nominated representative from the Council of the Isles of Scilly. Our mission is that by 2030, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly will be the place where businesses thrive, and people enjoy an outstanding quality of life. Our Local Industrial Strategy identifies the following distinctive opportunities; Clean energy resources, Geo-resources; Data and space; Visitor economy and Agri-Food.

 

More detail on the impact of COVID 19 on our economy can be seen in Appendix 1.


Executive Summary

The “Levelling upof economic performance at both local and regional level will require long term fiscal and policy decisions.  There are no quick fixes or silver bullets as true levelling up will require long-term political commitment across a range of policy areas, including significant investment into economic development of areas of the UK currently lagging behind and true devolution of responsibility for delivering against the levelling up agendas to the areas that need it.

A large body of recent research reports[1] conclude that the current centralised system of government funding and policy design, delivery and decision-making delivers sub optimal results in terms of levelling up and addressing economic inequalities between different areas of the UK.  They also all support a more localised approach with devolution of budgets and decision making to local areas as a key design principle.

There are a number of cross cutting interventions from across Government purview that contribute to this levelling up.  Interventions to “level” the per pupil allocation in the education system will help, over time, to ensure that attainment levels of rural and island communities (where the cost of delivery is often higher) and more deprived areas equal that of the our more affluent areas.  In addition, increases in the investment in road, broadband and rail infrastructure outside the South East of England and the M4 corridor will help to ensure that all areas of England can benefit from improved connectivity to our major centres of population. 

However, in addition to a re-allocation of existing Government  spending there is an urgent need to replace the current EU Regional and Rural Development Programmes (i.e. 2014 to 2020 ERDF, ESF, EAFRD and EMFF) and other Government schemes designed to stimulate growth (e.g. Local Growth Fund, Getting Building Fund) with a UK Shared Prosperity Fund (SPF).  The SPF must be an investment of at least equal value to current EU and national funding for economic development AND must have a razor-sharp focus on economic development activity with the specific purpose of making all areas of the UK prosper by placing those areas at the heart of the decision making for this fund.  Beyond this there is also the need to devolve current levels of adult skills funding to local areas as that will allow us to respond more quickly to a very dynamic labour marketplace.

 

 

Our approach to this task will involve investment to unlock our potential in energy, geo resources, space, data and advanced manufacturing as well as driving best in class performance in our existing business base and renewed Town Centre and High Street vitality.  If the focus of the SPF is watered down to incorporate wider Government priorities, its effectiveness will be diminished.

The future prosperity of the UK depends on unlocking the potential of all its areas, towns, high streets businesses and residents. Prior to the COVID 19 outbreak the OECD had already published research indicating that the UK was the nation with the greatest regional disparities (see chart below) and these are likely to increase once the true impact of the COVID 19 outbreak on local economies becomes apparent. 

In addition, as the maps below illustrate, regional inequality in the UK is a more complex issue than a simple North/South divide.

Therefore, it is in this context that this response concentrates on the role that the SPF can play in levelling up the economy through interventions designed to stimulate inclusive growth and improvements in the productivity in areas of the UK such as Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly[2] . Our key ask is therefore for a fully devolved ‘single pot’ SPF investment into our local economy of £700m over the next 10 years.

 

The immense productivity gap that currently exists between the prosperous South East of England on the one hand and the rest of the country on the other must be therefore be levelled-up by investing in the LEP areas that are currently lagging behind  In addition, Government must recognise that for those areas that are outside the agglomeration impact of a city region, the need for an alternative to the current “trickle down” policy environment is paramount.

The economic shock caused by COVID 19, which the OBR estimates as the largest ever shock to the UK economy[3], has also hit some areas in the UK worse than others and this impact is expected to exacerbate the need for significant and sustained levelling up.   The current economic impact of COVID 19 on Cornwall and Isles of Scilly is outlined below with more details available in Appendix 1.

Summary Points

  • Initial analysis pointed to a very significant impact on the majority of Cornwall’s 23,795 enterprises and 28,045 workplaces. It remains unclear how many businesses were able to survive the initial lockdown period of 7 weeks. Many businesses experienced full closure for 12 weeks, this was even longer for hospitality business which remained closed for 14 weeks and five days
  • In the week ending 22 June many towns in Cornwall were still experiencing significant drops in expenditure. The impact across Cornwall appears to be lasting longer than other areas with many towns climbing the rankings. Most MSOA’s in Cornwall had seen a less severe impact on consumer expenditure in June compared to April.
  • The number of people on Universal Credit rose from 24,876 in March to 48,458 in June an increase of 95%. A large proportion of this increase were claimants in the “searching for work” conditionality.
  • The impact has not just been felt in Towns across Cornwall. Many rural areas which historically have had low levels of Universal Credit claims are seeing large percentage increases.
  • Levels of government intervention through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly are some of the highest in the country. 35% of eligible jobs have been protected by the scheme at the end of June.
  • As of the 30 June 30,600 people in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have applied to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. The take up rate for this grant support stands at 75% of the potentially eligible population.
  • The latest ACC figures (May 2020), which are the best indication of those claiming unemployment benefits demonstrate that the impact of the downturn is quite evident with increases in both April and May. Comparing the May with the March figures shows an increase of 13,209 from 9,541 in March to 22,750 in May, up 138%. Within Cornwall the largest % increase was in Truro & Falmouth area at 157%. By comparison the average increase for England was  108%.
  1. Evidence base:

It is well documented that the impact of Covid19 on local economies as well as the ability of different areas to recover and renew needs to be a key consideration for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and our response to this inquiry is set in this context. 

A large body of recent research reports[4] conclude that the current centralised system of government funding and policy design, delivery and decision-making delivers sub optimal results in terms of levelling up and addressing economic inequalities between different areas of the UK.  They also all support a more localised approach with devolution of budgets and decision making to local areas as a key design principle. 

 

  1. Local structures:

As a relatively new unitary council formed out of significant local Government reform (6 Districts and 1 County Council) and serving a population of c570,000 we stand ready to work with Government as a blueprint for reorganisation and devolution in non-metropolitan areas. We want to build on Cornwall’s track record of delivery against our first devolution deal with a bold package of further devolution that will include the UKSPF but also other aligned budgets such as adult skills funding.  We are just in the process of renewing our employer led Employment and Skills Board and developing our Skills Action Plan and aligning these policy areas and budgets with the SPF will be integral to our growth and recovery plans.

Two-thirds of our residents say too many decisions are made outside the local area. We are therefore willing to trailblaze a non-metropolitan model in exchange for real devolution of power to Cornwall, recognising Cornish status as a national minority alongside the Welsh, Irish and Scots. In setting guiding principles for the UK SPF, the Government should therefore prioritise devolved decision making and delivery to the local level to address regional inequality and variations in economic contraction.

We offer Government a model to test the role that further devolution to rural areas with a dispersed settlement pattern can play in the “levelling up” agenda.  The systematic bias in national policy and funding decisions toward cities can only be levelled up by targeting LEP areas, towns and high streets that are lagging behind and therefore varying the policy approaches according to the differing nature of the local areas and their challenges

Whilst we recognise the challenges caused by overlapping areas and organisations elsewhere in England, we believe that we have the right governance structures in place to take forward a fully developed SPF.     With two strong unitary councils, a coterminous LEP area and a strong Leadership Board (a rural alternative to a Combined Authority, we believe no further reform of the structures is required in CIOS.  See Diagram below.

The integration of health and care into the Leadership Board is evidence of the transformation happening in health and care as well as the challenges we face due to our ageing population.  We therefore believe that further devolution is key to addressing the levelling up agenda and that resetting the relationship between central and local government is vital with more responsibilities and budget devolved to local authority and/or LEP areas.

 

  1. Stakeholder engagement:

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly prides itself on the collaborative approach we take to stakeholder engagement and consultation.  Developed over 20+ years of being involved in the design and delivery of EU programmes we have always adopted a bottom up and collaborative approach.  Our unitary status (Cornwall Council and the Council for the Isles of Scilly), commitment to double devolution where appropriate (to Town and Parish Councils) and our co-terminosity with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership helps to facilitate this approach.

Cornwall Council has a strong culture of engagement with its stakeholders and residents. This was noted in an independent evaluation undertaken by Warwick Economics and Development Ltd (WECD), commissioned by MHCLG, BEIS and the Cities and Local Growth Unit to examine the internal institutional processes, progress and governance of authorities across England with a devolution deal.

WECD visited Cornwall in March 2019 and provided initial high-level feedback stating that Cornwall Council demonstrated a strong governance model, a culture of continuous improvement, a devolution programme that was well organised and comprehensive, transparency of officers, Members and external representatives, and commitment by senior management and political leadership.

Early indications of the research findings were presented to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Leadership Board in March 2020, which showed that Cornwall proved to be the exception in relation to public and business understanding and perceptions of key local governance roles and concepts that are part of devolved institutions.

We also continue to work with Government to build support for a second devolution deal in Cornwall, ahead of the publication of the White Paper on Devolution and Local Recovery expected in the autumn. Through Britain’s Leading Edge we met Treasury officials at the beginning of July to test support for our Net Zero Evergreen Infrastructure Fund proposal, and at the end of July we welcomed the Minister of State for Regional Growth and Local Government during his two-day visit to Penzance, Falmouth, Newquay and Wadebridge to see first-hand the economic impact of Covid-19 on Cornwall’s economy and the steps we would like the Government to take to support local businesses.  Cornwall has also led the establishment of a range of external networks designed to engage with Government:

 

 

Our commitment to collaboration and the value we derive from it has also been recognised locally but also by MHCLG.  In developing the case for our Integrated Territorial Investment Strategy, they stated in reports that: -

“The most obvious point of good practice to date has been the early allocation of a substantial proportion of the ERDF budget. This is due in part to the long-term experience of Cornwall Council and the CIoS LEP, and also due to good communication with beneficiaries in the region”

Whilst there is always room for improvement our upper tier authorities are seen as key delivery partners for growth and by actively engaging in and resourcing the strategy development process, acting as lead and/or accountable body for delivery where necessary and/or providing match funding for delivery we can demonstrate our credentials as credible partners for Government.

 

  1. Sustainable local economies:

In line with Cornwall Council’s declaration of a climate emergency, a higher priority should be given to environmental goals in future support programmes recognising the need for urgent action to address the climate crisis, restore nature and promote green business practices (e.g. Green Tourism and skills required for Green Growth and recovery).

 

The CIoS draft Local Industrial Strategy echoes this ambition for carbon neutrality by 2030 and the Great South West’s ambition to be the first net zero carbon region in England both create the policy and strategy alignment required to deliver the necessary change. The importance of skills in the growth agenda and on social mobility and overall inclusive growth cannot be underestimated. Government needs to create opportunity and stimulate the economy through a green economic recovery that has employer-led reskilling and upskilling embedded at local level.

Future government immigration policy is also critical to the labour market for many of our key sectors as they are reliant on seasonal labour for much of their workforce. The further and higher education sector is also vital and therefore negotiating future access (as a “third country”) to the EU’s Horizon Europe and ERASMUS programmes is of great importance.  If access to these schemes cannot be agreed, then alternative UK provision will need to be put in place. In addition to general skills provision, schemes to tackle long term unemployment and promote inclusive growth are vital for any long-term recovery.  Young people and those furthest from the labour market may find themselves crowded out by the more recently unemployed during the early stages of recovery.

 

  1. Targeted regional investment:

Through the publishing of the Devolution White Paper in the Autumn of 2020 Government should ensure that the focus remains on levelling up regional economic inequalities through devolution to non-metropolitan areas. Due to our dispersed settlement pattern we have 19 key towns in Cornwall and 1 key town on the Isles of Scilly[5] that act as service and employment hubs for their surrounding areas.  How we target resources to aid their recovery and improve their vitality is a key issue that will require a different approach than an urban area or City Region. 

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to lifting productivity and “levelling up”. The productivity challenge in CIoS is multi-faceted, requiring orchestrated and long-term action across the foundations of productivity. Therefore, we believe that the focus for recovery should not be on national priorities for certain specific sectors but on the challenges, goals and vision for the future economy at a local level.   This approach will enable us to build on our existing foundations (e.g. University provision, Enterprise Zones for Food and Energy, Innovation Centres and RD&I) as well as develop new activity (e.g. Enterprise Zones for Space and Marine and a Tourism and Creative Innovation Zone). 

If Government focuses on the Five Foundations of productivity at national level, local areas can then define how these relate to their local economy, sector mix, etc. Conditions attached to future support should also focus on the delivery of “outcomes” (e.g. % improvement in productivity) required for sustainable and inclusive growth for the identified local area rather than arbitrary outputs (e.g. number of businesses supported).  

 

  1. Regional funding:

As part of the Governments levelling-up agenda, we would anticipate that future recovery funding will be allocated according to a needs based formula that is based on GDP per head or productivity per hour worked rather than a complex methodology that draws on a number of different metrics that often disadvantage rural and peripheral areas (e.g. population numbers and IMD)There should also be higher per capita allocations for those areas that are furthest behind in order to provide them with additional resources to target specific priorities. We also seek a commitment that we will not be left with a gap in our funding and the end of 2020, to ensure that we can continue delivering concrete results on the Government’s ambitions for a resilient, net zero and productive national economy.

We also propose a CIoS delivery model for a UK SPF that is a fully devolved programme designed around local control and accountability. It is based on lessons learnt from more than 20 years of experience of successfully implementing EU, national and local economic regeneration funding and would give CIoS the same powers and responsibilities that the Greater London Authority has under the current EU programmes – NB: we are not asking for anything that does not already exist for urban areas. Our delivery model will deliver a 10-year single pot programme that is cheaper to administer than current EU programmes, is more responsive to local need and strips away unnecessary bureaucracy in order to make it more business friendly whilst at the same time remaining fully compliant with national rules governing UK SPF.

By adopting a single ‘Delivery Framework’ approach with delivery devolved to the local level, it will be possible to align the interests and funding from numerous Government Departments into one clear programme of activity that is clear about the strategic priorities that any funding needs to deliver as well as the budgets available and the outcomes that will need to be delivered in return.

The national UK SPF documentation will make it clear what Government wants to see delivered by the funding and how the delivery structures would operate in a devolved context. By agreeing a single CIoS Programme Delivery Framework approach that nests within the national documentation Government can be certain that the funds will deliver the overall strategic aims of the UK SPF in a fully compliant manner whilst leaving the details of delivery to local partners.

 

  1. Project Speed:

Post-pandemic economic recovery has to provide a supportive environment that not only re-frames the narrative around ‘the central and the local’ but grants areas such as Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly a greater level of control over their own policymaking, development and delivery.  A place-based and sector blind approach is required not only because of the place-based variation in the size of economic contraction caused by the pandemic, but also because different regions have different strengths and opportunities. 

Specifically, our proposed SPF delivery model will contribute to “Project Speed” in the following ways: -

 

End of Executive Summary


Detailed response

In the context of the impacts outlined above and in Appendix 1 our detailed responses to the questions posed by the BEIS inquiry are outlined below.

  1.               Evidence base: what evidence exists to measure the performance of the various tiers of regional and local government in the delivery of growth? What evidence have regional and local leaders based their local or regional industrial strategies on, and what forms of stakeholder engagement were included in the drafting of priorities? Considering the cost of institutions, what cost benefit analysis exists to show the value for taxpayers’ money when compared to the delivery of wealth and job creation?

Cornwall Council is the largest rural Unitary Authority in England and are also the first rural authority to receive a devolution deal in 2015 on which Cornwall has been delivering a strong track record – independently verified by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, as well as in the Warwick Economics evaluation for BEIS, due to come out this spring/summer. The Cornwall Deal has been a first step towards ‘closing the gap’ that characterises Cornwall’s position vis-à-vis national averages. By securing freedoms to design local policy solutions to the place-specific challenges of their rural and peripheral communities, Cornwall Council has delivered significant achievements, including crucial improvements to their transport infrastructure to better serve local need, the launch of a Growth & Skills Hub, and tackling the higher than average fuel poverty rate.

The Council for the Isles of Scilly first met on 2 April 1891. At that time the Council was granted the power to deal with all aspects of the islands’ administration with powers equal to those of mainland county councils.  The Council of the Isles of Scilly is actually one of only two sui generis unitary authorities in the United Kingdom, the other being the City of London Corporation. This means that all other councils in England and Wales will fit into a more rigid system of legislation that dictates whether something is to affect those genres of government it is clear as to the extent of that legislation. 

With Scilly and the City of London, any such application of legislation needs to be made explicit within the legislation that it is to be applied to us. We are the responsible authority for education, housing, waste management, fire services, highways, environmental health, planning, social services, coastal defence, promotion of economic development and emergency planning. We also own and operate St Mary’s Airport, which is central to the local economy, and we provide the water supply for St Mary’s and Bryher.  Our unusual status also means that some administrative law that applies in the rest of England applies in modified form in the islands.

In 2018 we were one of the first areas nationally to publish a post Brexit Framework which set out policy, fiscal, sector and devolution asks reflecting our ambitions for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, to enable greater determination over how our region can prosper. New Frontiers  proposed a new locally controlled regional economic development funding model, innovative approaches to building more affordable homes through locally directed infrastructure and investments and flexibility over planning changes to regulations that inhibit business and have a particular impact on our region; sector deals in our space, creative, digital and clean tech industries that meet the challenges of the Industrial Strategy and are relevant to our local economy; and the devolution of powers in areas such as health and social care that will promote technology enabled care, promote joint working and on prevention.

A range of local, regional and national evidence has been used to inform our response to the first part of this questionGrant Thornton’s “Placed Based Growth – Unleashing counties’ role in levelling up England” report concluded that “With a geographic coverage that covers much of England, county authorities are well placed to meet this need. They are places where people live and work accounting for 46% of England’s population, 47% of its homes and 48% of its businesses. At a very simple level they are the ‘places’ individuals identify with, be that Surrey, Cornwall, Derbyshire or Essex. It is a combination of factors that places county authorities at the heart of place-based growth. They offer a broad reflection on different experiences, from those at the heart of driving economic growth through to those facing significant socioeconomic challenge”.

The report also suggested a number of “enablers” that are required to deliver place-based growth and in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly we are confident that we have many of them already in place.  The suggested enablers are as follows: -

The report also concluded that: -

 

 

Further evidence is supplied by the UK2070 Commission independent inquiry into city and regional inequalities in the UK as it states several times that the UK is the most centralised of western democracies and as such the patterns of government expenditure are critical and at present a large part of Government expenditure per head is going to London. The regional patterns of inequality are deep and structural: the dependence on the Capital region with limited spill-over benefits; housing constraints; struggling communities requiring increasing support; investment in infrastructure has a short-term focus; and, the current economic conditions impact quality of life and threaten key environmental resources. It also concluded that a huge gulf exists between the UK’s best and worst performing regions and towns. Research by Professor Philip McCann undertaken for the UK 2070 Commission compared the UK with 30 OECD countries across a broad range of 28 indicators

The report concluded that: “The UK is one of the most interregionally unequal countries in the industrialised world, and almost certainly the most interregionally unequal large high-income country.” See below.

Finally, it concluded that by enhancing local devolution, rolled out systematically with transfer of powers and resources to a comprehensive framework of mayoral and combined authorities, was required to deliver the decentralisation of central government functions for England in terms of budgets and ministerial responsibilities to align with local and transregional devolution.

A Joseph Rowntree Foundation report has estimated that dealing with the effects of poverty costs the UK £78 billion a year. London is at the leading edge of a broader national problem about house prices increasing to create growing problems about unaffordability and un-liveability for younger new entrants and the report highlights that this is also the case in peripheral rural areas like the Lleyn or Cornwall. 

The continued concentration of economic growth in London and its wider region has been possible because of sustained public investment in infrastructure yet the opportunity cost of low productivity in many regions of the UK acts as a severe drag on the economy. The chart below shows the extent of the disparity between London and the rest. CIoS is further behind with labour productivity just above 70% of the UK average, which as can be inferred from the chart is below the worst regions and way below the SW average.

The report also states that for the past 50 years, government policy has been that spatial inequalities are undesirable, unacceptable and should be remedied. Policy labelling has been around unemployment hotspots or areas of deprivation rather than the potential of an area to create ‘new markets’ and unlock opportunities. Interventions usually arise as and when crises arise.  

It concludes that this is a flawed strategic approach and that in order to help foster local growth, a combination of local leadership with a clear long-term vision leading strategic and local sustained action is needed in most areas. Furthermore, it suggested that there should be a twin focus on those key industrial sectors that will drive productivity and on the foundations of local economies. This is particularly important if policy interventions are not to end up excluding rural areas and marginalised towns from the wealth creating activity being promoted nationally.  Our draft Local Industrial Strategy clearly articulates our desire to deliver this twin focus.

The Local Government Association commissioned Localis in 2020 to undertake a study into “Fiscal Devolution” and the opportunity to adopt an international approach “Rethinking Local”.  The Chair of the LGA’s People and Places Board commented that: -

“As this report sets out, the UK is an international outlier, one of the most fiscally centralised countries in the developed world. Local authorities in Germany, Switzerland and Holland can access a diverse range of revenue sources. By contrast councils in England are only able to levy two taxes and both are subject to significant intervention and control by Whitehall and both stand increasingly exposed in the light of long-term changes in home ownership and business composition. As we look ahead towards the long process of economic and social recovery, this gap in local power and autonomy across England risks seeing our communities fall ever further behind”.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies have also recently published a report entitled “Sharing Prosperity? Options and issues for the UK SPF” and amongst its findings and recommendations it concluded that: -

All the above are national reports designed to further the debate around the “levelling up” agenda.  They all conclude that the current centralised system of programme design, delivery and decision-making delivers sub optimal results and all support a more localised approach with devolution of budgets and decision making to local areas as a key design principle.  We would support this hypothesis.

At local level, as part of work to ascertain the benefit of the EU programmes to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, our ESIF Growth Programme team commissioned Ash Futures, an external independent consultant, to undertake a review that compared the economic progress of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly since 2000 with national averages and a number of broadly comparable areas. Whilst the report identified that there is more work to do in order to level up our economy it also recognises that the overall story emerging is that economic growth within CIoS has been relatively strong during this period and that on a number of metrics progress has been greater than other areas.  A comparison of the areas and the GVA change delivered between 1997 and 2017 can be seen below.

In addition, an analysis of key econometric indicators was undertaken and CIoS was ranked in terms of how it performed against the 8 comparator areas.  The results of this analysis can be seen in the table below.

Whilst it is clear that the extra EU funds available to Cornwall and the IoS as a Less Developed Region (and formerly a Convergence and Objective One region under previous EU programmes) are a factor in this change we would argue that local input into to programme design and delivery have also been a factor as we have grown faster than other less developed areas who have been in receipt of the same (or even greater) per head allocations. The Ash Futures report also concluded that: -

With regards to our Local Industrial Strategy we were about to embark on the Government approval process just as the COVID 19 pandemic caused the process to be paused.  Our draft strategy was developed after significant levels of local stakeholder consultation, the production of an independent evidence base undertaken by Metro Dynamics and through the challenge of an external and independent “critical friend panel”.  Our draft Local Industrial Strategy has been endorsed by our LEP, Cornwall Council, the Council of the Isles of Scilly and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Leadership Board so we are confident that whilst is may need slight revisions to reflect the impact of COVID 19 on our economy the general direction outlined in the strategy (see below) is both evidenced based and fully endorsed[6] at local level. 

However, since starting the process of developing our LIS it has been felt that the focus on the Grand Challenges may not be as relevant as first thought or as set out in the LIS guidance, and although the concept of driving up productivity is a sensible approach, to focus primarily on productivity without adequate consideration to the climate emergency, environmental growth, Town Centre and High Street Vitality and social inclusion was an approach that was not supported locally before COVID 19 and is definitely not the necessary/sole focus required Post COVID 19.  Therefore, without a refresh, we do not believe the Governments current Industrial Strategy to be completely relevant to the current situation as it does not include any consideration for wider social and environmental factors that are now in play post COVID 19. 

Rather than start from scratch though we would urge Government to build on the work undertaken at local level to develop Local Industrial Strategies as these are for the most part either agreed or in final draft form across the country.  Using existing policy and delivery strategies will speed up Post COVID 19 recovery.  The Grand Challenges set out in the Industrial Strategy are challenges set nationally, and are opportunities believed to be of national importance and significance.

Post COVID 19 we believe the Grand Challenges should be localised within a national framework and should consider climate change, regional imbalances/the levelling up agenda, Town and High Street Vitality and inequality/social inclusion. Empowering local economies to find the solutions to these local, national and global challenges, whilst supporting and driving innovation, investing into infrastructure, and training and education will ultimately give local economies an opportunity to build on their local strengths and natural resources to develop solutions that will be exportable and improve both local and UK productivity.  However, it is accepted that the CIoS LIS will need a review, to reflect the impact of COVID 19 on our economy.  There is a consensus locally (Local Authorities, LEP, business organisations) that the priorities outlined in the LIS are sound but that further focus on general business performance, Town Centre/High Street vitality and skills is required.  Our draft LIS (see below) therefore articulates the starting point of our recovery upon which we can build further measure to help support the levelling up agenda.